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Gliding: Human-Machine Interaction

A few weeks ago I had an invitation from one of my main business partners (Traduco) for a gliding event in the North of Holland. It was on this occasion that I fully experienced the interaction between human and machines as a sense-making perspective during a challenging event. That is the theme of this 45th edition of the Change Letter; Human-Machine Interaction.


Launched by a winch

After a short introduction by Traduco about the similarities between the essence of asset management and running a gliding school, and some basic instructions and safety rules, part of the group was waiting outside for the take-off. Some of us were very enthusiastic, some were quite silence and others were a bit nervous, like me. Walking to the glider at the green the instructor offered me the front seat and took the seat behind me. Luckily, the glider got a double steering system, so I did not have to worry about steering the glider. Sitting there in front I experienced how small the aircraft without an engine really was and felt the connection between man and machine directly. Some instruments in the cockpit I recognized from my car and others from my sailing experience in the past.

Because one of the cables was broken, the tension was increasing. Although in my mind. After the instructor had been notified that that the cable was repaired (talking about asset management!), they closed the cockpit. A few minutes later, the winch was running. The glider started to shake and move, and before I realized it, the glider reached a speed of 100 km/hour, and a few seconds later an altitude of 250 meters. Looking around a bit, the instructor told me, with a relaxed voice, what I could see outside, such as the position of the North Sea, the Wadden Sea and the many, many windmills in the green landscape below. Unfortunately, there was not much wind, and about ten minutes we went back to the airport. We landed smoothly and safely. What an extraordinary experience to feel the power of gliding; a spectacular form of human-machine interaction!


Human factors and asset management

Human-machine interaction and in particular ‘Human Factors’ form the core of the module that I have offered in the Asset Management course of Traduco for many years. Although I always refer to aviation when discussing human factors in the course, I never had such an intensive real-life experience with an asset, and what might be called ‘human factors’, before. Human factors are (a set of) mental or physical properties of individuals that specify their behavior. Human factors affect the (safe) operation of both technological systems, as well as mankind in its wider environment (context/milieu). In addition, human factors play an important role in the successful implementation of Asset Management projects. In particular, they play a crucial role in leadership, cooperation and communication issues on an organizational level, and competencies, responsibilities and meanings on a personal level. These human factors flew through my mind while gliding. I concluded that there is no stronger instrument to change mindsets then a new real life experience like gliding.

Human factors in an organizational context

If you are interested in more information about human factors in an organizational context, or have personal experiences that you would like to share with me, please feel free to let me know. You can mail me or contact me via my LinkedIn account.

Dr. Martin Loeve

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Source image: traduco.nl


Dr. Martin Loeve is the founding director of Delta Change Management, an international consultancy firm specializing in research, consultancy and education in the field of change management, with a particular focus on continuous, small-scale improvement and emphasis on the human factor.

Martin has, amongst other things, authored the management book De Change Maker® (Loeve, 2004) on small-scale change processes, and the article Mindset Change in a Cross Cultural Context (Loeve, 2007), which was published in Action Learning: Research and Practice. He was awarded the PhD-degree for his thesis Ander-ing On-Stage Addressing Expatriate Loneliness by the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht in March 2014.


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